Dortmund / Hannover (DPA) – A booster vaccination after four weeks makes no sense from the point of view of immunologists. In North Rhine-Westphalia, a third coronavirus vaccination will likely be possible a month later, according to a decree from the state government.
Some politicians are already calling for this path to be expanded. The German Society of Immunology views this decisively: four weeks after the second vaccination, some immune processes have not yet been completed. Then the booster works worse.
“Politics has mixed two things here that should not be confused,” Professor Carsten Watzl (Dortmund), general secretary of the German Society of Immunology, told dpa. One is the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Immunization that some people should be boosted after only four weeks. The immunologist explained: “This only applies to people with weakened immune systems who did not react or barely responded to the first two vaccinations.” “The third vaccination does not boost their immunity – I have to mount it first.”
“For everyone else – and this is the majority – I would like to achieve a boost in immunity with the third vaccination,” Watzel said. “For this, some operations must first be completed.” Plasma cells and sufficient antibody-producing T cells should have formed, some would have to be converted into memory cells, and some would have to migrate to the bone marrow. “These are operations that are not yet completed after four weeks.”
From an immunity standpoint, Watzl said, four months is the bare minimum. “When I then get vaccinated for the third time, the body has already developed cells that are better suited to the pathogen – and I want to strengthen them again. This makes my immunity much better than if I received the vaccination again after four weeks.” Watzel said the decision was likely made out of fear of Omicron, but he doesn’t consider it “appropriate. The most effective thing now is to increase the rate of first and second vaccinations.”
The President of the German Society of Immunology, Professor Christine Volk (Hanover), considered that the dereliction was a mistake. “From an immunological point of view, four weeks after the third vaccination is too early,” said Falk of the German news agency DPA. And then the immune system is still preoccupied with “mature”. “Above all else, the antibodies are getting better again – like the maturation of a fine wine.”
“If you tackle this process too soon with a third vaccination giving the antigen, it disrupts the maturation process rather than supporting it.” In addition, antibody levels reach their highest after four weeks — “so a third vaccination at this early point in time doesn’t bring that much,” Falk said. It is best to use resources to reinforce people who received their second vaccination more than six months ago or for groups at risk.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211214-99-378083 / 4
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